Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, April 28, 2017

Another New View

The view from my window this morning.
What you can't see behind the cloud layer--mountains.
Yes, we are on the road again, Husby and me.
Jasper, Alberta this time.
Library conference/writing retreat.
I'll be swimming soaking hiking shopping working madly on my newest manuscript and thinking of you!
Back Monday for Poetry!
I love you all!
Diane

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nail(ed) Clippers

This is a confession.
Yeah. It was me . . .
Mom had a pair of toenail clippers.
Large.
Effective.
Those suckers could cut through anything.
Well almost anything.
They had sat atop her dresser in lonely glory for all of my life.
I had watched Mom use them on numerous occasions. Seated on a chair, one ankle cross over the other knee for convenience and leverage.
Always with a garbage pail beneath in case of accidental drop-age/escape-age.
There would be the steady sound of clip-age.
Then mom would get to her feet, restoring the garbage to its rightful corner, and returning those great, heavy clippers back to their place.
Until next time.
And there they sat.
Now, I had borrowed these clippers from time to time.
Usually when I had misplaced my own.
Because mine didn't have a place of honour on my dresser.
Or anywhere, for that matter . . .
Now, that day:
 I was somewhere far out in the pasture. Doing the things I was supposed to be doing.
Not in my parents room snooping around for Christmas presents.
Or at least that's the story I always told my mom.
Ahem.
And it wasn't me who took a straight pin from the pincushion which also resided atop Mom's dresser and tried to clip it with her clippers.
Just to see what would happen.
Resulting in a gap in the very center of the smooth edge of said clippers.
Because--just FYI--in a contest between straight pins and clippers, straight pins win.
But now, I'm changing my story.
A little late, but there you are.
I'm telling you this so you don't have to watch your mom, to the end of her days, clip her toenails with a defective set of clippers.
Sigh.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Green Hand

It came out of the blue.
Or green, as you will soon see . . .
Mommy was working at her desk in her office.
Little Girl (hereinafter known as LG) was playing at her little craft table in the next room.
Now, I should probably mention, here, that LG is not one of those children who get into things. Nope. She is a 'rules' sort of person. She likes to know them.
And, on occasion, reinforce them.
Especially to any other children in the vicinity.
Also, as an only child, she entertains herself with admirable skill.
Sooo . . . back to my story.
Mommy: Desk.
LG: Standing in the doorway.
"Mommy?"
"Hmmm?"
"Mommy?"
"Hmmm?"
"Mommy?"
"What is it?"
Okay, now she's got mommy's attention. "Mommy, this happened."
Mommy turns around.
LG is holding up her left hand.
Which has been covered, wrist to fingertips, in green marker.
"LG (not her real name) what did you do?!"
"I'm sorry. It just happened."
"Your entire hand got coloured in green marker."
"Ummm . . . yeah."
"How did it happen?"
"I did it."
"Why?"
A shrug. "I just . . . wanted to."
"You wanted to colour your entire hand."
"Yeah."
Mommy was getting a little lost. "But . . . why?"
Another shrug.
"What has Mommy said about drawing on yourself?"
"Not to do it."
"So . . . why did you do it?"
A third shrug.
"Let's go and wash, shall we. Then I think we'll have to put the markers away for a while so we can think about this."
"Okay!"
And here's what we take away from this:
So you know--out in the world when people do seemingly inexplicable things. Things that make you stare at them and think to yourself: Really? You're going to go with that? Did you even think about this at all?!
Those things?
Yeah, it's still inexplicable.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Soggy, But Triumphant

Front to back: George, Me, Chris, Jerry, Dad and Blair.
Look closely. Can you pick out the intrepid swimmer?
I had never taken swimming lessons.
We simply lived too far from the city (Lethbridge) for it to be a priority. Or even possible.
But I loved to swim.
And, with the river in such close proximity, did it a lot.
In the summer.
In winter, for obvious reasons, we were pretty much shut out.
Then, someone of great intelligence from the town came up with a fantastic idea.
Why not hire a schoolbus and cart a load of kids to Lethbridge once a week?
It was genius!
Swimming lessons had become a reality.
I was going!
The bus ride was a treat. I wasn't confined to my usual fourth row back and Kathy had a portable record-player, which she kept going the entire trip.
Do you have any idea how many times you can listen to the Surfaris 'Wipe-Out' in a fifty-mile bus ride? Answer: A few.
The bus deposited us safely in front of the Civic Center and we scrambled madly for the door and the change rooms, then poured out into the main pool room.
We were ready.
The teachers began to sort us into groups, using a list of highly-specialized criteria.
How old are you? Are you afraid of the water? Have you ever taken swimming lessons before? What colour is your swimsuit?
Do you like boys?
Finally they had us, more or less, categorized.
I had never taken swimming lessons, so I was inserted into the beginners class.
“Okay, kids. See if you can put your face into the water.”
Woohoo! Compliance! I took off like a seal.
“Okay. You! Little girl in the blue swimsuit!” Sigh. “Would someone please fish her out?”
Have I mentioned that I like water?
“Are you sure you've never had lessons?”
Head shake.
“Well, I'm moving you up to the next level.”
Okay.
And so it went.
By the time we were finished our one-hour lesson, I had been . . . promoted . . . seven times.
It must have been some sort of record, to go from the beginner level to the 'Junior Lifeguard' level.
In one lesson.
Who could have known that all my flailing and thrashing around like a demented fish had actually been getting me somewhere.
Or that, in the still water of a pool, with no current to fight, I could actually make headway.
Really fast headway.
Jerry (the only member of my family who could fight the river's current and win), eat your heart out.
Because miracles do happen.
I was suddenly the soggy and triumphant queen of my little, watery world.
It didn't happen often.
But it was a very good feeling.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Something's Sprung

March bows. A wave good-bye, she earns, 
And April comes and hope returns,
That soon we'll see some warmth and sun
And know that springtime has begun.

When colour will return anew,
And leaves come back and flowers poke through.
The grass turn green. The song of bird
Throughout the warming air be heard.

When soft and pristine breezes blow,
And places, then, to see. And go.
The doors and windows, closed so long,
Are opened wide to catch Spring's song . . .

It's here, you know, that airy Spring,
When bells ring out and songbirds sing,
There's warmth and joy and sunlight's gleam
And spring has sprung--cause I can dream.

Sigh.
Ready to set sail . . .

Someday . . .

Monday is for Poetry.
It starts the week off right, you see.
Now go discover what my friends,
Have done when they two wield their pens!
Delores at Mumblings is having an Ordinary Day
Jenny at The Procrastinating Donkey experienced a true modern dilemma.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Suit-Able


The cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
 And I do mean Cover!
While we're on the topic of modesty . . .
Bit of a departure today, because of an experience.
I had a swimsuit.
I made it.
Long. Old-fashioned. Neck to knees type.
Yes, popular at the turn of the century.
The Twentieth century.
I loved it. It covered me.
It encased anything that might otherwise unexpectedly fall out.
And saved me the aggravation of having to shave my nether regions.
I hated shaving my nethers.
Moving on . . .
Swimming was the only exercise I could do that didn't hurt something.
I swam a lot.
This necessitated my going to the pool.
Usually, I swam in the morning with the other octogenarians.
I fit right in. And no one could see well enough to notice that my swimsuit was different from those found at the local Zellers.
All was well.
But I missed my morning swim one day.
And was forced to go at a later time.
With the younger set.
Who could see.
Sigh.
I strode confidently from the dressing room towards the pool.
And that's when the trouble started.
A group of kids, probably in the 10 to 12 age range was sitting on a large, foam raft not too far from the entrance/exit to the change room.
I entered.
One young girl pointed. And laughed.
I suddenly felt as though I was in junior high again.
It wasn't a pleasant feeling.
But that's not important.
What is important, was how this young girl was . . . dressed.
Her slender little pre-pubescent body was covered, barely (and I use this term deliberately) by two almost non-existent triangles of cloth on her upper half and only slightly larger triangles on her lower half.
She was as close to naked as one can get and still legally appear in public.
And she seemed completely heedless, sitting there amongst other boys and girls her own age, laughing at someone who was dressed in a far more modest, albeit fairly 'unique' swimsuit.
I remember when near-nudity was a source of embarrassment. When one's worst dreams were of appearing somewhere public . . . in a less than exemplary fashion.
Okay, I have to admit that, that day, one of us was embarrassed.
Me. For her.
My point is this: When has modestly become an opportunity to jeer?
When did society do a complete turn-around? When did the naked start laughing at the clothed? (Not that I'm promoting the idea of the clothed laughing at the naked . . .) But when?
I have to admit that I believe in modesty.
It promotes confidence and self-worth. It promotes respectful behavior, both to oneself and to others.
I still wear a similar bathing suit, and will continue to do so.
I'm comfortable.
And isn't that the point?

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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